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Owens Dry Lake lies in California’s Eastern Sierra, about 200 miles northeast of Los Angeles. This 110-square-mile lake began to dry up in 1913 when Los Angeles diverted the Owens River into the LA Aqueduct. By 1926, Owens Lake was a dry alkali flat, and its dust became the largest source of carcinogenic particulate air pollution in North America. In 1998, the EPA mandated that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) take steps to minimize the toxic PM-10 dust pollution from Owens Lake. This pollution was 100 times greater than federal air safety standards. LADWP began construction on the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Project in the year 2000. They have installed 50 square miles of dust mitigation zones, including gravel cover, managed vegetation, buried drip tubing, and irrigation bubblers to shallow flood the dry lakebed. The dust mitigation project has cost $1.6 billion to date and requires so much water that it may not be sustainable as climate change results in a drier climate for California.


Owens Lake and the Los Angeles Aqueduct

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